Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snowy Perspective

The snow has been falling for the past twenty four hours. Periodically, there are breaks in the stormy winter clouds as they slowly move over the Ohio Valley. Sometimes when I look outside, I see a steady flow of flakes falling onto the already covered ground. Other times, it is still outside. Either way, it is amazing how beautiful snow can make anything look whether it is falling or settling into its place.

Snow is the blanket that covers the frozen grass, the leafless trees and the bushes that merely look like brush when they aren't covered in green. Snow makes everything pretty in a time when things really aren't that pretty. Everything that starts out vibrant and colorful in the spring turns lush and green in the summer and eventually fades to warm autumn hues. And then winter suddenly comes along and strips it all away. All of the leaves, the flowers and the colors are gone. Instead what is left is the bare nakedness of branches, vines and plants frozen in time.

Winter is not my favorite time of year. The festivities of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years is quite enjoyable, but these "cold" months leave me feeling a little blue and earning for the warmth and alive feeling that only can come in the spring.

Still when I see the snow fall, I know this is God's way of giving us some color in a generally colorless time of year. Sure, snow is white and white is typically not seen as a true "color", but white depicts purity, holiness and cleanliness. No matter where snow falls, it makes that place beautiful. It drapes over trees, buildings, cars and road signs like a blanket reminding us there is something far greater, far more important to consider than the chaos of our lives.

Have you ever been stuck in one place because of snow? Have you ever had to drive really slow to get through it? How many times during the warmer weather months does this happen to us other than some catastrophic event like a hurricane? No, in the winter, we are forced to slow down. We are forced to "freeze" just like the plants outside when a new layer of snow has covered our cars and streets. We have to be mindful of what we are doing out on the road in order to safely go from point A to point B.

I may earn for the warm sun hitting my face and letting my toes breath in my sandals, but I know there is a lesson to learn in the winter. Enjoy it. Slow down. See the weather disturbances not as just an annoyance for interfering in my day, but an opportunity to think about things in a different light. Maybe being "stuck" with people we enjoy being around is the perfect opportunity to get to know someone better. Perhaps driving slowly means that instead of being on auto-pilot and zipping home that we will be able to tune in to our favorite radio station to catch a sermon, talk show or listen to our favorite music.

Maybe we will learn something. Maybe we will walk away wishing we had more time to be stranded. And just maybe there will be another winter storm soon to cause us to freeze again before the thaw of spring brings the busy days ahead.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

This post is part of a series titled "Twinmama's Lifestyle Challenge". For more information about how the challenge works, please visit related links here and here.

Week Three: How Did It Go?

This was a crazy week! I spent a week with the girls at my mom's house while twindada refinished the hardwood floors, so my challenge was a little off this week. (And the reason for my lack of posts and visits to my fave blogs.) I did make more efforts to drink more water, but my mom's house is stocked with all sorts of yummy little goodies and soda, so I didn't stay as focused as I wanted. We are now back at our house (and the floors are done -hurray!), so I hope to work hard on this challenge this week as well.

Week Four...cue Mission: Impossible music...

Category?: Family

What?: Read to those kiddos! I will dedicate twenty minutes of my day to reading to my girls.

Reading to our children helps them to appreciate reading, helps them to learn, is an excellent way to have one on one time with our kids and helps them to establish a habit of reading on their own well into their adulthood.

How Do We Go About Doing the Challenge?: Since my children are quite young, I will look for opportunities throughout the day to sit with them to read books. These opportunities would include times when they are sitting and quiet and also before naps and bedtime. It is important to note that I will read to them individually 20 minutes a day.

Who Does the Challenge Include?: It includes me and my twin girls. (Also twindada if he wants to participate.)

Resources to Help:


TLC Weekly Challenges start on Mondays and continue indefinitely. I will post my results along with the following challenge next Sunday. Remember, you are invited to participate in my weekly challenge or create your own and tell me about it! Also, if you find better ways to accomplish a weekly challenge, please drop me a comment. Good luck, fellow TLC-ers!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This post is part of a series titled "Twinmama's Lifestyle Challenge". For more information about how the challenge works, please visit related links here and here.

Week Two: How Did It Go?

I was able to get up early one day this week before the girls woke up to have quiet time with God and pray. Other times, I spent time in the evenings listening and reflecting on my day. It was very clear to me that the day that I woke up early and spent time with God, I was happier, more patient and more productive throughout the day. This is clearly the way that I need to start my mornings. I will continue to work on getting into a schedule where I can wake up early to devote time to God.

Week Three...cue Mission: Impossible music...

Category?: Health

What?: Time to get water-logged! I will start drinking more water throughout the day and ideally increase my water intake and decrease other liquids that I consume daily. I will not cut out any other liquid at this point, but add in more water before taking out anything else.

Why?: Water keeps us hydrated, helps us to lose weight and satisfies us so that we do not turn to calorie filled beverages like soda or fruit juice. Do you know that sometimes we confuse hunger with thirst? How many times have we gone for a cookie or some chips when we really need a tall glass of water? Try it sometime - it can work!

How Do We Go About Doing the Challenge?: I have a large re-usable water bottle that I will keep filled with fresh, cold water.

Who Does the Challenge Include?: It includes me and my water bottle.

Resources to Help:

Need more reasons to drink water? http://www.betterwayhealth.com/drinking-water.html

TLC Weekly Challenges start on Mondays and continue indefinitely. I will post my results along with the following challenge next Sunday. Remember, you are invited to participate in my weekly challenge or create your own and tell me about it! Also, if you find better ways to accomplish a weekly challenge, please drop me a comment. Good luck, fellow TLC-ers!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mamas Everywhere

I have discovered that I am not the only mama living in the house. Sure, I may be the only one that actually has real live children to rear, but there are a couple other mamas around here practicing with their beloved stash of stuffed babies and critters.

Recently, I have been thinking about the differences between boys and girls. I have two nephews and have always seemed to be around boys more than girls until my little duo came along. Before I had the girls, I had ten family members or friends who gave birth within a year's time and eight of those little ones were boys! Needless to say, I was quite alarmed when the nurse told me that I just had two little pinkies. Life certainly was never the same.

I was always frightened by the concept of having girls. According to several women that I know, raising girls is supposedly much harder and more taxing on a mother than boys. Supposedly, we don't worry about our boys as much as we do our little girls. Now, I am no authority on boys since I don't have any and I really am not even an authority on girls either since mine are so little, so I can't answer this question right now. What I can tell you is that many little girls and many little boys have gender roles built right into them. I don't know why this is and why girls and boys pick up on different things even if they are exposed to the same environment, but I have seen it happen time and time again.

Now as my little girls are almost getting to the old age of two, these little personalities have shaped into what I can only believe is their God-given maternal instincts. Of course, those environmental behaviorists can argue that they see me caring for them and they want to imitate me. I totally buy that and from last week's post, you know that I am watching this very carefully. However, it is the sweet little gestures that I am amazed they will do for each other, for me and twindada and for their little brood of stuffed friends.

Peanut especially assumes the role of big sister (by one big whole minute!) quite well. I don't ever treat her like she is older of course, but she just seems to be a little more take charge and affectionate than Jelly Bean. Just today, when I stepped out of the playroom to answer the phone, I turned around and Peanut had found the box of baby wipes, pulled one out and was proceeding to wipe Jelly Bean's nose for her. (Something we have had to do a lot lately.) Jelly Bean giggled while Peanut rested her hand on Jelly Bean's shoulder and babbled something to her that I can only imagine went something like this, "I am going to wipe your nose. Please blow." (Well, this is what I say to her anyway!)

Another example was last night, twindada was laying on the couch and Peanut gathered up a pillow, blanket and some stuff animals and started laying them all over him. Once he was covered up, she looked at him and said, "Night. Night."

Jelly Bean loves to share her sippy cup with everyone around, but she has to hold it. She will walk up to me and stick out her sippy cup making the funniest expression with her face. All I can see is her top lip curled up and her teeth bucked while she sucks in air. I think she is trying to show me how to do it in case I have never used a sippy cup before. I will pretend like I am drinking from it and she gets the biggest laugh from it. I have also caught her feeding her best friend, "Bear", the once white, now unsightly grayish, squished, floppy head bear that is in a permanent headlock under her right arm. (That reminds me that I need to send in a reconnaissance team to take out Bear so that he can get a good washing...)

Many stuffed animals have been put down for naptime and covered up. If I try to ask them what they are doing, they will say, "Shh" while putting their finger to their mouth. What was I thinking? I could have woken up the monkey!

So it is really cool to see them acting out these maternal instinct skills. I have never considered myself very maternal at all really. Before kids, I enjoyed my niece and nephews and friend's kids, but I would say that I have always been more of a playmate than a mother to any of them. (Probably since I am still kind of a big kid myself.) Once I had children, it was amazing how much my perception changed and my confidence grew about raising children. Certainly not because I had all the answers suddenly, but because they were my children and it was up to me and twindada to decide how they were going to be raised and what was important for our family.

I like the fact that the girls are already exhibiting these personalities and I hope that it means they will be more maternal than me. I am so glad that I am teaching them about how to care for others and hope they grow up to be happy mothers of their own little ones.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This post is part of a series titled "Twinmama's Lifestyle Challenge". For more information about how the challenge works, please visit related links here and here.

Week One: How Did It Go?

Twindada and I met this past week to discuss both of our goals.

My 2009 goals are:

* Faith - Strengthen my faith and walk with God; become more educated; become involved in helping others
* Family - Spend more time teaching, playing with girls; enjoy family more; spend more time with twindada
* Health - Live a healthful, active lifestyle
* Personal - Take a leap out of my comfort zone and do something that I have always wanted to do
* Finance - End the year with a healthier financial outlook

These are broad goals that I hope to achieve through smaller, thoughtful weekly adjustments. Twindada is going to hold me accountable to these and I am going to hold him accountable to his, too.

Week Two...cue Mission: Impossible music...

Category?: Faith/Personal

What?: Stop. I need to slow down. Things have been spiraling out of control lately. Our family has been dealt several blows lately and I feel like I don't know if I am coming or going. Secondly, I need to take several minutes a day to pray, think and listen. It's time for me to find a quiet place and just pray and listen for direction and guidance from God. I spend too much time with something or someone taking my attention away from myself and my relationship with Christ.

Why?: When we get so busy with the day-to-day chaos of life, it is easy to forget to take time to thank God for all that He has brought into our lives. Additionally, when tough decisions and times lay ahead for us it is important for us to reach out and give Him the controls.

How Do We Go About Doing the Challenge?: I will take a few minutes each morning before the girls wake up and sit in a quiet place. I will not have the TV, radio, anyone around and I will just pray and then think or meditate on the things going on in my life. I will specifically ask God for direction and guidance on troubling matters and thank Him for the blessings.

Who Does the Challenge Include?: It includes me...and God.

Resources to Help:

Philippians 4:6 (NASB)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

James 1:19 (NASB)
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger...

TLC Weekly Challenges start on Mondays and continue indefinitely. I will post my results along with the following challenge next Sunday. Remember, you are invited to participate in my weekly challenge or create your own and tell me about it! Also, if you find better ways to accomplish a weekly challenge, please drop me a comment. Good luck, fellow TLC-ers!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Forget The Self Help Books

It has come to my attention that as I think about my personal goals this week, I realize that one thing that won't be a weekly challenge as part of TLC is that I will never read a self help book. It isn't like there aren't good books out there to read, but all that I really need to know about myself, I can learn from my kids.

I was taken back recently at how much my girls are little sponges and literally imitate my words, mannerisms or actions. This is endearing and frightening all at the same time. It really isn't until we have children, do we really know ourselves. They are two little mirrors running around my house and every time I look at them, I realize how much they are learning from me. And by them learning from me, I am learning about myself.

There is this PBS public service announcement where a mom is frantically running around trying to get dinner cooked while the kids are hanging out. It is clear she is stressed out and gets involved in so many tasks that she ends up burning dinner. At that point, she has a decision to make on how she is going to respond to the stress of the moment. Does she scream with frustration? Does she throw something? Does she walk out of the room? She has a decision to make and she better make it a good one. Why? Because the kids are watching.


Ever make the wrong decision?

I know that have. I have gotten mad and stressed out and about ready to freak out and then see two little pairs of eyes watching me. How I deal with stress is really going to shape how they are going to deal with stress. If I don't teach them to take a breath, think through an issue and re-tackle it with a positive attitude, then they will only learn to stomp off, cry, scream or snap at others. If no one teaches them, how can they learn?

Also, I realize that some of the things that I do are quite annoying. Like for instance, if someone is getting into something they are not supposed to get into, I will lead them away from it and if they resist, I will tell them to, "Go!" Well, this seemed like the right thing to do until one day when Peanut approached me, nudged my knee and said, "Go, Go!" My reply was, "No, you go!" She came back with another, "Go, Go" along with a finger pointed at me. Sigh.

Now the girls are telling the dogs to hush all the time. It doesn't matter if the dogs are barking or not. The dogs get told to "Hush!" and I am sure that is quite annoying for them. Where did they learn that at? Me. When the dogs start barking, I will get after them. Again, it seemed like the right thing to do until Jelly Bean pointed her finger (again, the finger point, ugh!) and told Sydney to "Hush!" when the poor dog was just walking across the dining room.

Okay, so I clearly need to stop pointing my fingers. I don't like it when people point their fingers at me - why would I teach them that? Did I know I was teaching them that? No. But that is the point. I don't know what I am teaching them at any given minute. They are going to pick up the good and the bad.

So, while I am teaching them their numbers, colors and ABC's, this year I have to be more mindful of the little things they are learning as well. I want them to know how to handle a stressful situation. I want them to learn how to communicate effectively with others.

How I handle these things makes the difference as to whether the girls learn them or not. And if I am not getting something right, my girls will let me know.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

This post is part of a series titled "Twinmama's Lifestyle Challenge". For more information about how the challenge works, please visit related links here and here.

Week One...cue Mission: Impossible music...

What?: Make a Plan. I will write out my goals this week. I need to consider overall goals that I would like to accomplish this year. It is important that I not worry about the specifics in getting there, that is what the weekly challenges (going forward) are all about. For example, if a goal is to lose weight, then I will write it down. How I go about losing weight will be part of my weekly challenges. Secondly, tell someone else about it. I will find someone in my household or a close friend that I can buddy up with to encourage each other or simply find a person to help me stay accountable by encouragement and prayer.

Why?: Putting our goals down on paper helps to organize our thoughts and can serve as a daily reminder if posted somewhere for us to continue to review. Also, when we have a partner to encourage us with our goals, it is easier to stay accountable.

How Do We Go About Doing the Challenge?: I am going to sit down and write out my list of goals focusing on the categories that I previously posted: Health, Family, Faith, Finances, Personal. Once complete, I will show my list to twindada and ask for support. Finally, I will post my list in a place where I will see it often.

Who Does the Challenge Include?: It includes me and my support partner.

Resources to Help: Need help on writing personal goals? A good article to check out it right here.

TLC Weekly Challenges start on Mondays and continue indefinitely. I will post my results along with the following challenge next Sunday. Remember, you are invited to participate in my weekly challenge or create your own and tell me about it! Also, if you find better ways to accomplish a weekly challenge, please drop me a comment. Good luck, fellow TLC-ers!

Friday, January 2, 2009

TLC Begins This Sunday!

I am so pumped to make some changes this year! I know that I cannot just magically convert my lifestyle and start doing everything at once that I want to do. Therefore, I am going to take it week by week and hopefully can adopt many new, healthful habits in 2009. I believe in the saying, "Slow and steady wins the race" and know that doing small changes will, little by little, make a big difference overall.

Wanna join? It's easy! Just check out my blog every Sunday for the week's new challenge. Here are some reminders on how it all works:

1. Every Sunday, I will post my one new challenge for the week. It will be a small thing that I am either giving up, a habit that I am trying to adopt or a modification to perhaps a previous challenge that needed tweaking (though I hope this is rare.)

2. Challenges will start officially on Monday and continue indefinitely. Even though there is a new challenge each week, the idea is to build on the challenges. Therefore, week 1 challenge continues even when week 2 challenge begins. I am trying to build habits and make small changes that will produce effective results for overall goals.

3. Bringing Up Twins readers are invited to participate in the challenges each week or follow their own challenge. I know my goals may not be the same as others, so if you would like to be a part of TLC, but don't like the challenges, by all means, create your own and go for it!

4. I will share my previous week's results with you all and invite you to do the same. When I post the new challenge on Sunday, I will share my results of the previous week's challenge and any other highlights to past challenges as appropriate. You are free to make any comments about the challenges. Also, if you create your own challenge, I would love to know what it was. It may become a future challenge for me, who knows!

Also, I wanted to give you some more information about how the post each week will look. I want to keep the post identifiable to my readers (you will know it is a TLC post so you can read or run away!) I want to keep it organized so not only do you know about the challenge, but also understand why it is one of my challenges. Therefore, every challenge will have the following criteria:

What is the challenge?
Why is it a challenge?
How do we go about doing the challenge?
Who does the challenge include?
Other important information to help (resources, guides, suggested books, etc.)

Also, since it is only one challenge per week, it can be a challenge relating to any of the below categories. I want to keep the challenges as organized as possible, so you will see a category identifier on each challenge, so you know what to expect. My categories will include:


Also, remember these are challenges, not goals. They are going to be things we can do to help with overall goals. Therefore, a challenge will never be "lose weight." That doesn't help me to actually lose weight, that is just me saying it out loud. Instead, I will modify my daily menu, incorporate activity into my week and make decisions for healthful living.

These are my challenges so you are invited to participate, but you can also create your own if these don't apply to you and still want to be part of making 2009 a year of exciting growth and development!

Lastly, I want to assure you all (in case any of you were pacing back and forth fuming about this whole project) that although TLC will continue to be a weekly post this year, I will also bring more exciting twin stuff for all of my readers. So don't fret, there will be something for everyone!

See you Sunday!